The final month of the year has arrived and we’re into the home stretch before the Christmas and New Year break.
At the time of writing, Melbourne police are currently investigating an incident where a Dymocks employee was pushed to the ground unconscious and shoved down an escalator. A Melbourne Vinnies outlet was smeared with human waste as anti-vaxxers rail against the vaccinated economy. Book stores and op shops are hardly a location you expect to see any form of aggressive behaviour, so this episode underlines how widespread the problem has become. Although these incidents have grabbed public attention, they are by no means isolated.
Data from the National Retail Association’s members and partners shows some sobering statistics across Victorian retail. In 2021 we’ve seen some shocking increases across the state – a staggering 85 per cent rise in threatening behaviour; a 79 per cent surge in aggressive behaviour; and a more than doubling of customer incidents involving intoxication.
Tensions are likely to be further heightened as shoppers battle the hustle and bustle of the Christmas crowds. Shopper turnout is almost certain to be higher than last year, as a result of easing restrictions and well-publicised delays with logistics and delivery systems.
Queensland is set to follow suit with newly released Public Health Directions, with only days remaining before hospitality and entertainment venues will have to bar unvaccinated patrons from entry. We continue to keep constant communication with the Victorian and Queensland Governments to advocate for our employees, who do not deserve to be on this receiving end of this disgusting behaviour. It is not our retail and hospitality workers’ job to police vaccine mandates, and we need more support from our Governments to safeguard these workers, who are often young people between 14-24.
On a separate note, Queensland retailers will breathe a sigh of relief at the news that the border will open to tourists on Monday, 13 December. Fully vaccinated travellers from COVID hotspots can enter the state by road or air after a negative COVID test. You no longer have to wait two weeks after the second dose to be fully vaccinated, as national guidelines now say one week is enough. Lastly, people entering Queensland are required to have another COVID test on day five after their arrival. It’s a return to normalcy two years in the making.
Although the tourism industry is obviously the biggest winner from Australians again being able to freely travel the country, retail also stands to benefit immensely. Whether Australians are holidaying at a renowned tourist hotspot, travelling to a major metropolitan centre or escaping to a regional area, they will be spending money at local retailers in those destinations.
On the topic of travel, I’m pleased to announce the National Retail Association will be hosting the inaugural NRXpo in February 2022. It’s been so long since we’ve been able to meet face-to-face. I encourage you to join me, and Russell Zimmerman from eftpos, for a day of innovation and insights from industry leaders. Tickets are on sale now at https://nra.swoogo.com/nrxpo.
All the best for the week ahead.
Chief Executive Officer